Mar 25, 2019

Along the Mighty Mississippi, Cities Swap Sandbags for Marshes

Offutt AFB, NE
USA
by
Daniel Cusick
,
E&E News
Areas surrounding Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., stand affected by flood waters March 17, 2019. Credit: Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake U.S. Air Force
Areas surrounding Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., stand affected by flood waters March 17, 2019. Credit: Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake U.S. Air Force

Mayor Rick Eberlin of Grafton, Ill., knows that by the end of this week he will probably be in another fight with the Mississippi River.

...

“What used to be a high-water event every two, three, five years, now it seems we’re getting it every year, sometimes twice a year,” Eberlin said. “I know we’ve got a different weather pattern, and the events are getting more fierce.”

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“We’re flooding right now,” Ritter said last week. “The river went up last week, and the forecast says it will go up again in early April. Our soils are completely saturated, so the marsh is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.”

Like Eberlin in Grafton, [Brian Ritter, executive director of the nonprofit organization that manages the Nahant Marsh in Davenport] has kept tabs on high-water events in Davenport over the last two decades. He is convinced climate change is leading to more extreme precipitation and more floods.

“This is our 21st flood that we’re experiencing since the year 2000,” he said. “Historically on this stretch of the river, it was one or two floods per decade.”

“I mean, you know, climate change and land use—it’s the double whammy,” he added. “At one time we had this wonderful prairie sponge all through the Midwest that would soak up the rain and snowmelt. Now we have to build the sponge.”